Sunday, May 11, 2008

Perth Review, Elton Will Return to Oz in 2 years!

DARK clouds loomed, ominous in the background and occasional lightening flashes lit up the sky behind the crowd.

It was the perfect backdrop for a little music magic as the self professed wizard of pop, Sir Elton John appeared on stage decked out in a suit and tails adorned with musical notes, owls and a caricature wizard version of himself. As he turned to take his seat his agenda became quite clear. The words "Music Magic" were emblazoned on his back. He was here to conjure something special and even the threat of a thunderstorm wasn't going to stop this legendary entertainer.

John was here to make it up to Perth fans who missed out on seeing his The Rocket Man Solo Tour: A Knight Under the Stars when it toured Australia last year. The Rocket Man wasn't going to leave us waiting a long, long time, kicking off the show bang on time.

The singer, who looked dwarfed on his stage and as if he were drowning in his baggy black suit was greeted with a standing ovation from the 15,000 strong crowd. The enigmatic star smiled and nodded, accepting the adulation with humility.

Regular show starter Funeral For a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding) was followed by The Bitch Is Back. Not a drop of rain had fallen and we were beginning to think John's ability to create magic extended beyond his musical abilities. But by the fourth song Tiny Dancer the heavens opened. Still the crowd came prepared, whipping out their ponchos and raincoats and barely missing a beat as they sang along to the 1972 hit.

The rain certainly didn't dampen John's spirits as he continued on with Levon.

At the end of songs the singer would get up from his piano stool and come forward to mouth "thank you" to the crowd. He would return to his stool, adjusting his tails each time he sat back down. If he was feeling particularly amped, he would hop on top of his piano stool and clasp his hands, victory style. While words to the audience were few and far between, this comical little routine proved more endearing than any cliched speech torn from the pop star handbook.

Musically John gave the crowd exactly what they wanted and you couldn't ask for a better setlist. After 1995 hit Believe, the singer took us on a spectacular stroll through the 70s with Take Me to the Pilot from 1970, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and Daniel from '73 and Rocket Man and Honky Cat from '72.

The distinctive '80s synth sound of 1989 hit Sacrifice made it clear we were heading into another era. But it wasn't long before we were back in 1975 as John bellowed out the entrancing Someone Saved My Life Tonight from the album "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy".

John's piano playing was astounding, all the more so when the cameras honed in on his stumpy little fingers. You can imagine that somewhere in his past a fussy piano teacher would have insisted he could never play with "those fingers". Sir Elton's vocals were also outstanding especially on Daniel. Likewise his stellar five-piece band including Tom Petty look alike Davey Johnstone and John's original drummer Nigel Olsson, put in amazing performances. Olsson in particular proved himself to be quite the showman. Decked out in sunflower shirt he brought plenty of whimsical charm to the evening as he hammed it up for the cameras.

And the hits just kept coming. I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues, Sorry Seems To Be the Hardest Word and Candle In The Wind. From up-tempo tunes to classic torch songs, John had it covered.

1976 classic Pinball Wizard had the crowd at the front of the stage on their feet, creating the closest thing you would come to seeing a mosh pit at an Elton John concert. They stayed on their feet for the remainder of the show bopping along to Bennie and the Jets, Philadelphia Freedom and I'm Still Standing.

There were cheers aplenty as the opening chords of Crocodile Rock reverberated around the stadium. With a snap happy croc depicted on the light screen behind him, John slid off his piano stool to lead the crowd in a "la la la la la" singalong. It was like a bad night at karaoke, but John was lapping it up.

The first set finished with another 70s favourite Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting).

Fans were on their feet, sodden ponchos abandoned at their feet for the encore. John appeared and signed memorabilia for fans at the front of the stage before performing a passionate rendition of Don't Let the Sun Go Down On Me. After promising to be back "in a couple of years" he dedicated Your Song to the masses who faithfully sung back: "how wonderful life is when you're in the world."

And it's true, after all, what would the world be without a little music magic.


Funeral For A Friend
Love Lies Bleeding
The Bitch Is Back
Tiny Dancer
Take Me To The Pilot
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road
Rocket Man
Honky Cat
Someone Save My Life Tonight
I Guess That's Why They Call It The Blues
Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word
Candle In The Wind
Pinball Wizard
Bennie And The Jets
Philadelphia Freedom
I'm Still Standing
Crocodile Rock
Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)

Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Your Song

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